19 April 2012
 
A blog entry posted here a year ago, conceded that perhaps the Syrian President was willing to improve government in Syria, that his public comments could be seen as a wish for change. The problem I suggested was perhaps that he was a slow learner.
 
Twelve months on, there seems to be very little evidence that he has any interest in what is needed to bring about any sort of decent civil society in Syria. If he is learning he is on a very slow trajectory!
 
Although more “western” than most of the Arab world, Assad’s administration is making no progress in promoting transparency, integrity or sound democracy. What amounts to civil war may be the inevitable consequence. The ceasefire brought into force this week is reported to be a very grudging concession to world opinion. Many believe it will be shortlived.
 
In 2010 Transparency International rated Syria in 127th place on the Corruption Perceptions Index. In the updated survey results published in December 2011, things had worsened. Syria slipped to 129th place. It is likely to slip further this year with the armed forces showing little commitment to the ceasefire promoted by the UN Secretary General. There is little confidence in Europe with general cynicism about the likelihood of UN observers being able to influence things for the better.
 
A time series of the World Bank World Wide Governance Indicators between 1998 and 2010 shows that the high point in Syrian economic and political development was in 2004. All ratings have deteriorated since. Reversing the trend seems unlikely to occur for quite some time yet.
 
Assad is a very, very, slow learner!
 
 
 
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